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16 Signs you’ve been Germanized

Started from the bottom now we German.

It feel so short, but really its been some years now, and as I take a step back and look at myself I can see how much I have changed as a person from my time in this counry. Most of all I can see the habits I have exchanged..which honestly, I’ve been told is no suprise.

Here are my top 16 identified signs of Germanization

    1. You are confused when a stranger asks “how are you?” ( Like, who is this person? why are they asking, we are not yet on familiar aquaintance terms”
    2. SprĂŒdelwasser is life
    3. You’re becoming fluent in Denglisch. So good, its practically your mother tongue.
    4. Youve began writting the number “1” the German way, whichused to confuse you as it looked more like a “7”, but now you understand it simply cant be done any other way.
    5. You’ve mastered all the ways to use bitte in everyday interactions. It is not simply please but also pardon, here you are, not at all, youre welcome, and go ahead. SImaltaniously youve also achieved the ability to hold full conversations merely with the word  doch.
    6. You no longer need an extended period of time to go through all those previously seeming extensive variety of  euro coins
    7. You have dreams in German and sometimes recall memories of people back home speaking in German
    8. Sometimes you forget wörter in English and begin to question who you are anymore
    9. In wintertime, you have a special relationship with Hausschuhe
    10. Next to that you now understand the full range of seasons; Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring and Spargelzeit
    11. You get withdrawls from going too long without eating bread
    12. You drink only juice in  Schorle form..goodness forbid you dare drink straight up saft
    13. You can sort through plastic, paper, compost, and RestmĂŒll in your sleep
    14. You make plans with friends a well week ahead and are shocked and slightly taken aback when some asks to spontaneously meet for dinner or hang out
    15. Sundays are for doing nothing, and you wouldnt want to spend them any other way.
    16. Brot is life and Brezn is love

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How to easily file your German taxes

How to easily file your German taxes

Welcome to the world of the international adult. It is not just struggling to hold a full time job, speak a second laguage and naivgating oneself through a new culture, but also the joy of filing taxes in this world.

but no fear! the German tax system is rather easy to get through and with an average of 1.000 euro returns

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…it is definitly worth the hassle.

So sit back, relax, and let your friendly neighborhood expat guide you on the easy peasy tax return route

 

How to do your German Tax Return ( SteuererklÀrung)

First things first, make sure you have your Lohnsteuerbescheinigung ( tax summary, like a W2)  handy and have downloaded the latest copy of Elster

Ok, FYI there are ways to do your taxes by hand, however in this day and age I prefer the online option. Elster (ELektronische STeuerERklÀrung) is basically the dream tool.

Regarding this I have gathered for you a great guide:

  1. Print out the forms
  2. Sign
  3. locate a post office.
  4. Send them to your local Finanzamt
  5. Done!

Via the Elster method, it usually takes 1-2 months for processing to happen. However, you will have given them your bank data so one day your refund will automatically pop up in your account and voila! time to treat yo self

 

But but Aspen, my German isnt tax preparation reaadyyyyy

no fear kleines mĂ€uschen, if you are not quite up to the challenege I would recomend you check out Steuergo .  This online tax assistance platform is directed towards expats and all in english ( yeehoo!)

but if you are a freelancer or have a bit more complicated tax situation I would recomend you see a Steuerberater. A Steuerberater is a tax preparer. Here in Germany it usually cost a couple hundred euros to enroll in their services, but they are very good at optimizing your return amount and naturally if you have a business, home, large family, multiple sources of income it can be in your best interest to have a profesional guide you along the German tax system.

You can easily search for a steuerberater by googling one in your zip code. There are always so many options, so it is not a tricky task.

 

 

Questions? Answers.

When is the tax deadline in Germany?

The deadline is May 31. However, if you missed it or were not able to find the time, extensions can easily be made. Also, in the German system, as an employee,  you are able to file your taxes from the previous four years. So if you miss out you can always do it next year without a penalty.

When will I get my money back?

I have been told typical procesing time is around 8-12 weeks ( or in some cases even 3 months) but if you have filed your taxes online this usually helps to speed up the process.

 

 

 

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

Moving to Germany, 2 years later

As many people have asked, and continually do so, I have finally decided to sit down and answer a why German post. Coming from Hawaii to Munich always seems to baffle people in conversation, and when the initial shock is over questions about the expat experience come up.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in California, raised in Hawaii and then moved back to Cali for a couple years for college. I would say Im not from either 100% but a good solid west coast mix.

 

What made you decide to move away from the US?

Have you ever been to California or Hawaii? paradise. ok you got me. However, economically it is a disaster.  At some point I found myself beginning to get trapped under mounds of debt and realized that having no health insurence was not a way I wanted to live my life. I was in dire need of some stability. So I packed my bags and searched for a new home with more opportunities and benefits.

 

How did you decide on settling in Munich?

I initially did some test runs in my search for a new home. I had some time in Geneva, Paris and London, but all the while I had a nack for visiting Munich and eventually fell in love with it.

 

Do you have family or live alone?

Most of my family is gone now ( one of the major reasons I left America) However, I did start out in Munich as an aupair but now I am a full fledged adult and live alone. On occasion I will visit my German family so I cannot say I am entirely out here alone and roughing it.

 

Was it easy making friends or adjusting to the culture?

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Oh boy is this the question. I could write a thesis on this bad boy, and have probably verbally done so many times. The German culture – in contrast to American- is a very hard nut to crack. In America it is easy to walk out and talk to any old Joe on the street and build an ever lasting friendship eventually. but no, not here. Germans are very reserved and very exclusive. You meet people basically only through other people and if you cant speak German at all it can be very difficult. I mean I must admit I have heard Munich is extra difficult regarding this and if I was in another city it may be easier..but I chose the hard route. All in all I cannot fully complain though, in a way I really appreciate it a bit more in comparison to the over friendly American style. I find here when you actually can get into a social circle, the friends you make tend to be far more loyal and valuable.

How do you cope with homesickness?

In all honesty I do not have so much homesickness as Munich feels to me more like a home than any other place I have previously lived. Sometimes though, when Ive had a hard day or want to cry from studying the language I will go get a Starbucks. It may be over price, under quality coffee but it does taste the same in every country.

 

How long did it take to learn German?

This is a pretty reletive question. First things first, German is extremely hard. Most expats I have met tend to avoid learning it. They find when everyone here speaks english it doesnt make so much sense but also I takes a loooootttttt of work and investment.  I was lucky. I chose to start my Munich transition as an aupair so I had some good time in between working hours to hunker down and focus on studying. I did sacrfice a lot of my free time to catch up from a life of single language living and many a times cried because learning German grammar is a night mare. Now I am about a B2 ( just under native speaker) my comprehension is about perfect but since I work in english my speaking is not soooo ideal.

 

Do you feel at home yet?

For the most part I can answer this yes. In my first year it was really hard and I often felt very alone and reminded I did not belong. I did not know the city well and was very shocked by the culture. Going into my second year ( and once I learned German) I began to feel more at ease. Now that the second year is nearly over I can say I am very well settled. I have a perfect flat, job, my language skills are blooming, the social situation is..almost solved.. all in all I am just about as cozy and content as an expat could be. I’ve come to find that calling somewhere home is not about being happy because everything alway being perfect, its about feeling happy when nothing is going right. It is always a struggle in some way or other to make it here but at the end of the day I find it always works out well for me. Some way or another.

Top five Summer activities in Munich

Top five Summer activities in Munich

Ahhh yesssss, finally the days of snow are through and the temperature is headed up. Summertime is starting in Munich, and what better way to enjoy it then hurry on outdoors.

But wait! what is this you say? You don’t know what fantastic activities Munich holds for this season? Well then my dear, let me give you a little help.

  1. Englischer garten

Known as one of the biggest urban parks in the world, the englischer garten is by far one of the first attractions youll want to hit up in the Munich Summer months. It stretches on throughout Munich with its many wooded trails and chill  sunbathing friendly greenery. People come from all over to lay by the river, play volleyball, do sports and spend their whole days in the sun.

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They even have a part of the river where people surf. I knowww right? bananas.

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2. Open airs

Another popular summer activity in Munich is to attend an “open air”

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An open air is a bit of a loose term. Its like any sort of gathering event, with music and drinks outside. It ranges from big music festivals to smaller outside gatherings and even outdoor cinemas. Below I’ve added a couple standard open airs that would definitly be a good option to see for the new to Munich:

and here are some bigger note worthy festivals around the area

3. Cafes and Roof top bars

 

Now on to on of my favourite activities…eating and drinking! The long sunshine hours of summer create the perfect opportunity to sit outside, enjoy the weather and some treats. Whether you choose to brunch, lunch or go out for a drink the options are endless. Since I tend to post about my favourite cafes, right now I will just tell you about to great rooftop bars.

Flushing Meadows | http://flushingmeadowshotel.com/bar/

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This hotel bar sits in Fraunhoferstraße between the ReichenbackbrĂŒcke Isar and GĂ€rtnerplatz. They serve amazing smoothies and Açai bowls from Super Danke and have a fabulous list of drinks and cocktails ( my current favourite being the Flushing Meadows Spritz) Its a wonderful place to go anytime of the day, but particularly evening I find lovely.

Café Vorhoelzer Forum | http://www.vf.ar.tum.de/cafe/

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Located above the Technical University of Munich ( TUM or TU) is another great-and super popular- roof top bar. Naturally as its above the university, finding a spot there can be difficult but when you are lucky or have put your weight in it is worth it. The food is not someting extra ordinary and the drinks are standard but the atmosphere is really what catches you. And the view of the city is really great.

 

4. Glockenbach

Glockenbach is one of the more popular districts in Munich ( coincidently also my home). However it has two main areas that are great local attractions:

GĂ€rtnerplatz

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A small enclosed roundabout between Marienplatz and Sendlinger Tor is host to a wonderful mini garden park. People often come and sit on its benches and stairs under the central fountain for the day. Drinking a beer or radler, eating some ice cream or even just sunbathing with friends. The area is always very well manicured and the plants are changed out for each season.

ReichenbackbrĂŒcke Isar

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The part of the Isar flows under the Reichenback bridge near Fraunhoferstr. ( just a few minutes walk from GĂ€rtnerplatz) Its a great place to go and relax in the sun. It doesnt quite have the swimming capabilities as the Englischer Garten, but its more for just chilling in the grass or running along the paths.

5. Lake trip

Now this is a bit far off, but any proper Munich inhabitant will know it is one of the best ways to spend some free summer time. And with the amazing German public transport system, its pretty easy as well. All around Bavaria there are many great lakes or in german Sees to visit. Here are some of the most popular:

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Playing about Paris

Playing about Paris

What better way to begin your first eurotrip than with a trip to Paris?

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and no no, I’m no spring chicken when it comes to the euro game, but my Californian cousin S sure is. She planned to finally get out of the country with a three week trip to stay with me, and naturally we had to plan to do some traveling elsewhere.

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As  I have ( or havent) previously mentioned, I used to live in Paris. So for me, it was more of a revisiting my youth.

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but onward to the trip. It started out great, we even made a friend on the plane

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When we arrived in Paris it was sunny and divine. We met up with my friend N from London

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Pose pit stop

and headed straight to the Parisian Paradise that is Ladurée

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my happy place

We had a marvelous afternoon tea and were in Macaron heaven

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take away treasures

We unfortunately were only in Paris for two days, so the rest of the time we ran around doing all the splendid touristy things and sight seeing.

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We ran around all the major monuments,

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Notre Dames

strolled by the Sein

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a little pop by the Moulin Rouge

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and ate in far too many cafes

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So many decisions, so little time

I must admit, I really do love the culture in that city. It can be very difficult at times(a reason I didnt stay) but as a visitor its nice to see how everyone moves so casually and in their own way. They seem to do what they want, when they want and dont care otherwise. The cafe life is much different as well.

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late nights in Montmartre

Going out is about spending time with people, not a focus on the eating itself. You enjoy your company, the view, the time. Theres no pressure or rush to do anything else but enjoy yourself.

Although our trip was brief, it was grand. And the perfect european introduction for S.

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Paris 101: Bread is life

As for me, I will be back very soon… as my macaron stash is getting low

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Laduree all day